By Gene Phelps
RIDGELAND – Nettleton’s booming bats, the ones that eliminated Mooreville in the state semifinals, fell silent Saturday.
The Lady Tigers collected just 14 hits combined in their 8-3 and 5-1 losses to Philadelphia in the MHSAA Class 3A state championship slow-pitch softball series at Freedom Ridge Park.
“We weren’t patient at the plate the whole day,” first-year Nettleton head coach Jacob Kidd said. “We never made adjustments of getting the ball on the ground to give us an opportunity. We weren’t disciplined enough to square up.”
“You’re not supposed to get beat 8-3 and 5-1 in slow-pitch. Their pitcher (TK Cole) did a good job throwing strikes.”
Nettleton (20-10) had 43 hits in its two-game series sweep of Mooreville to earn a return trip to the state finals. Philadelphia defeated the Lady Tigers last season in three games.
“We get so up for Mooreville, it’s hard to get back up for the finale,” Kidd said. “I’ve got to find a way to get that energy back down here in Jackson. It's been the last several years that we've worn this silver medallion.”
Philadelphia (33-3) scored six runs in the first inning of Game 1 and held on. Nettleton made some noise when Brianna Holland hit a solo homer in the first.
In Game 2, Philadelphia again started fast and scored four runs, two off a triple by Cole. The Lady Tornadoes added an insurance run on an error in the sixth.
Nettleton scored its lone run in the first on a double by its lone senior Brittany Adams, who had two of the Lady Tigers' five hits in Game 2 and three of their nine in Game 1. In Game 1, Adams had an RBI triple to plate Jolie Parker in the sixth, and she doubled and scored on Madison Dabbs' fielder's choice in the second.
Lady Tigers second baseman Lauren Hall, who hit three homers – two of them grand slams – against Mooreville, had two singles on Saturday.
“We all were nervous and anxious,” she said. “We have seven new players. I think if we had come out and hit like we did against Mooreville, we would have won.”
Hall just missed hitting a homer to right center field in the fourth inning of Game 2, but the ball was caught near the fence.
Kidd agreed with Hall about the nerves.
“A lot of it was the six new players we had out here,” he said. “They went back to lunging for the ball instead of letting it get deep and putting 28 hits up on the right side like we did at Mooreville the other night. In my opinion, Philadelphia has the best shortstop in the state, and coming down here, we were prepared to stay away from her. We hit too many to her. When you play an athletic team like this, you can't hit the ball in the air either.”